Space Invaders is one of the most iconic classic games in existence. It’s up there with Tetris, Pong and Pac-Man as a quintessential game that has suffused the world’s consciousness. If you asked around my high-school class you’d struggle to find a student without some exposure to Pac-Man through the Google doodle from about ten years ago but comparatively few students who have played the original arcade game. Similarly, I’ve definitely played some version of Space Invaders in my life but I couldn’t tell you what version and I’m certain I’ve never played the original. This puts me in a very unusual position in this review of Space Invaders Invincible Collection where I’m covering entries in a franchise that I’m hyperaware of which were released well before I was born and before video game reviews were an established thing. But I’m nothing if not adaptable so I’m going to pull up my tube socks, put on some prog rock, channel my internal proto-video games reviewer and dive right in.
Space Invaders Invincible Collection is a bundle of 10 classic Space Invaders games from the original, released in 1978, up to the iconically named Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE, released in 2018, giving Nintendo Switch owners a chance to play some classic Space Invaders games from the comfort of their own home, opening up the franchise to a new generation. The collection is very well put together with no unnecessary faff, just a game selection menu between the loading screen and the game you want to play. There are buttons devoted to things like adding credits to make the arcade game go, rather than breaking out a hammer in an attempt to negotiate feeding a pound coin through the screen of the Switch. But other than that the games are all faithful ports of the originals with the controls sensibly mapped.
There isn’t a huge amount to say about the collection itself so let’s take a look at the games on offer. You’re in for a treat today because I’m going to go away, play each of the ten games for a little while, come back and write 100 words of less reviewing each of them to give you an idea of which flavour of Space Invaders you might want to try first when you pick up the ice cream parlour of Space Invaders Invincible Collection. Buckle your seatbelts and here we go for a coffee-fuelled rampage of a review.
Space Invaders (Original Version)
Vanilla. It’s the original Space Invaders. The spark that started the fire that lit the inferno. The original foundation that everything else builds upon. You’re a tank, the aliens are dropping down from the sky and speeding up the more you kill. The first level is hard. Are there other levels? Probably. Do you have a chance of playing them without some Space Invaders wizardry? Probably not.
Space Invaders (Color Version)
Vanilla but blue. It’s the original Space Invaders again but this time it’s been coloured in. The gameplay is the same, the assets are the same and the sound is the same. This is the one to go for if you want a taste of that original space invaders charm but with a little more visual interest. Not recommended if you’re not one of those weirdos who watch black and white films or play games with visual filters or film grain.
Space Invaders Part II
Raspberry ripple. It’s that original taste of Space Invaders with a little swirl of something new. Space Invaders Part II adds the delicious raspberry flavourings of enemy reinforcements in a tub that splits in two, much like some of the new enemies. Not as radically different as going from a supermarket own-brand to a Ben and Jerry’s but there are certainly some additions to get excited about in the second part.
You know how some ice cream parlours sell coffee? Coffee. Not a Space Invaders game, not even in the same sub-genre as a Space Invaders game. If Space Invaders is London then Space Cyclone is Pluto. In Space Cyclone you play as a tiny UFO trying to take a trip to and from the surface of a world, presumably for some light probing. On the way back you can shoot the asteroids that are in the way in a Space Invaders-ey way but that’s where the similarities end.
You know how some ice cream parlours sell hot dogs? Hot dogs. It’s not a Space Invaders game so not an ice cream but it’s still arguably food. Similarly to Lunar Rescue, Space Cyclone is a spin-off game made for the same chip as Space Invaders and vaguely included in the SICU (Space Invaders Cinematic Universe). In this entry, you still shoot from the ground up at enemies but a lot of the Space Invaders stylings are lost.
Majestic Twelve: The Space Invaders Part IV
Phish Food. Unlike Space Invaders Part II, Part IV is a serious innovation over any other entry into the franchise thus far, stepping well over the line into the Ben and Jerry’s section of this bizarre parlour. The game keeps the core mechanics and stylings of the original game but overhauls basically everything else, producing what I would call the first game in the collection that holds up to modern standards. There are serious upgrades available, stage selections and even sections where you are preventing the abduction of cows – presumably where the milk comes for the ice cream in this list.
Super Space Invaders ‘91
Phish Food. Again. This is literally the same game as the last one. There are a few visual changes and you play through the stages in order rather than selecting them as you do in the previous game but those differences are so minor and unnoticeable to be irrelevant. Why these two identical games were included but Return of the Space Invaders (nominally Space Invaders Part III) was excluded, I’m not sure but skipping from 2 to 4 makes me feel icky.
Space Invaders DX
That multipack of Häagen Dazs ice creams with similar flavours you see in supermarkets. This entry is packed with content including a basic Space Invaders mode that mimics the previous entry (for a third time), a Versus mode where you can battle it out with friends/family/sheeps to see who has the best Space Invaders skills, sabotaging them as needed and a Parody mode that plays like a standard Space Invaders level but with the assets swapped out – a chicken instead of a tank and cats/pumpkins/your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine instead of the aliens.
Space Invaders Extreme
LSD. I don’t know what’s going on, I’m incredibly overwhelmed and I think I might have taken drugs before selecting this game. But I think I like it. It’s Space Invaders turned up to eleven, being faithful to the original vision but stretching it to an extreme. You face a quick succession of small waves of invaders and are showered with devastating upgrades to your weapons while the game monitors your performance on more levels than the average patient is monitored on life support. It’s my favourite entry in the collection, even if I desperately need a lie down now.
Space Invaders Gigamax 4 SE
A sundae, and bring me 4 spoons. A Space Invaders game aimed specifically at being played cooperatively with 3 friends. It’s, in essence, a long Space Invaders screen where each of the four players can control a zone to clear it of invading aliens or, once you’ve cleared out your area you can skip across to another zone and help out grandma before she causes the fall of humanity as we know it with her inability to shoot where the aliens are going to be instead of where they are.